Background: Adult height and body-mass index influence the risk of breast cancer in women. Whether these associations reflect growth patterns of the fetus or growth during childhood and adolescence is unknown.
Methods: We investigated the association between growth during childhood and the risk of breast cancer in a cohort of 117,415 Danish women. Birth weight, age at menarche, and annual measurements of height and weight were obtained from school health records. We used the data to model individual growth curves. Information on vital status, age at first childbirth, parity, and diagnosis of breast cancer was obtained through linkages to national registries.
Results: During 3,333,359 person-years of follow-up, 3340 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed. High birth weight, high stature at 14 years of age, low body-mass index (BMI) at 14 years of age, and peak growth at an early age were independent risk factors for breast cancer. Height at 8 years of age and the increase in height during puberty (8 to 14 years of age) were also associated with breast cancer. The attributable risks of birth weight, height at 14 years of age, BMI at 14 years of age, and age at peak growth were 7 percent, 15 percent, 15 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. No effect of adjusting for age at menarche, age at first childbirth, and parity was observed.
Conclusions: Birth weight and growth during childhood and adolescence influence the risk of breast cancer.
Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society.